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'Strong commitment' to news but 2013 will be tight - Stephen Adler

There is a strong commitment to news within Thomson Reuters but things are going to be tight in 2013 given the environment the group's financial clients are operating in, Reuters editor-in-chief Stephen Adler said on Thursday.

While it is hard to place a monetary value on news, users of Reuters’ flagship desktop data product Eikon spend 30 per cent of their time on the application reading news, he told staff at Reuters’ main London office in Canary Wharf.

A note on Adler’s presentation circulated to European bureau chiefs by senior editors in London, seen by The Baron, said he acknowledged that Eikon, the $1 billion desktop whose shaky start after launch in 2010 disappointed investors, had had problems. But it was much improved and a great deal of work was being done to improve it further. Reuters’ long-range reporting and editing operation in Bangalore was doing well and the company was looking at ways of increasing automation.

Adler said new mobile and Internet offerings would be launched in the first quarter of 2013. Rather than focusing on the front page concept of the print media, the dotcom offering would have greater emphasis on search and related stories, as most people came to Reuters on the Web via search or social media related to a specific story. It would be an even better showcase for text, pictures and video, and would aim for the “prosumer” audience – people who were consumers already, as well as some of the figures who Reuters journalists write about on a regular basis but who are not clients. The new online offerings would include a pay wall element leading customers to Eikon for news and Thomson Reuters’ WestLaw product for legal services. It would generate revenue and provide a better showcase for the work of individual correspondents.

Adler praised the work of Reuters in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region. The media business conducted an extensive survey of 820 clients and the results were very encouraging for Reuters. Reuters came top or tied for first place on all metrics, he said. The agency was judged No.1 for accuracy, objectivity and timeliness. On some of these indicators Reuters was 15 points above the median score. In most categories, AP was in second place but in financial news Bloomberg remained Reuters’ sharpest competitor. For more insightful work, the Financial Times, The Economist and The Wall Street Journal were Reuters’ main competitors.

Reuters had improved its output of more insightful stories over the past 18 months, Adler said, but he wanted to clarify some misconceptions. “We have not given up on the need for speed,” the editors’ note said. The trader side of the business was worth around $3.5 billion – speed remained very important to them. The buy-side of the business was aimed at investors with a longer-term view. That business, worth around $2.5 billion, is interested in trends, in insight and depth that might help the fund managers, for example, build a portfolio rather than make a specific investment. ■